Being inventive with the leftovers is the best part of the festive feast, says Philippa Davis, as she shares her favourite Christmas leftovers recipes
With the main event out of the way, the fun can start with your leftovers. There’s no need to let the festive fare go to waste or to start a production line of turkey sandwiches. Philippa Davis advises on how to use the Christmas leftovers and her favourite recipes.
The best leftovers require an excellent Christmas lunch in the first place. Choose a festive bird that will satisfy your conscience as well as your stomach, read Christmas turkeys: heading for the table.
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HOW TO USE THE CHRISTMAS LEFTOVERS
When a newly transformed Ebenezer Scrooge merrily arranged a surprise delivery of a prize turkey on Christmas morning to Mrs Cratchit, I have my doubts that it was met with total enthusiasm. I am sure much effort had already gone into planning and prepping their festivities, however meagre, and big changes at zero hour would have caused chaos. Delight and gratitude would have soon turned to panic and dread as the logistical nightmare dawned on her. Where was she meant to cook such a big, exotic bird? Would she have enough fuel? How long was it going to take to cook? You can imagine her squawking: “Dinner’s going to be eight hours late.” Then, of course, there would be her final challenge. Her family, despite consisting of two adults and six children, one of which is the ever cheerful but I doubt of hearty appetite Tiny Tim, would never get through all that meat. What was she going to do with all those leftovers?
THE BEST RECIPES FOR CHRISTMAS LEFTOVERS
The time always comes when the household cannot face yet another turkey sandwich. As the traditionalists have been satisfied at the Christmas lunch, now is your time to experiment and add exotic flavours for some entirely different suppers. Our Christmas salad makes a great light lunch for a break from feasting, or try turkey tacos when you’ve really had enough of turkey.
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Leftovers only appear if you over cater in the first place. As a chef, I plan, shop and cook meals successfully all year round for numbers of people ranging from one to 150. I know all about portion control, scalability and am an expert in party planning so it amuses me greatly that when it comes to the Christmas feasting in my own home, experience and sensibility fly out the window.
I can perfectly well see the cupboards are well stocked – the fact that the doors don’t shut anymore is a good clue – and the fridge becomes so full the rays from the interior light don’t shine past the first shelf. My wardrobe becomes an overflow wine cellar, which, of course, is no bad thing.
It’s not that the idea of the shops being inaccessible for 24 hours puts me in panic mode. I have cooked in enough remote lodges not to worry that I can’t simply nip out if I have forgotten something and friends and family are well behaved (mostly), so I know roughly how many guests to expect and cater for.
I think we all over shop at Christmas, myself included, partly because we want to be generous and put on a good show but mostly what we are all really thinking about when we are ordering those extra bits of cheese, vegetables, smoked salmon and meat is the delight and fondness for those stress-free, easy to sling together meals after the main event.
There is nothing more relaxing for the person in charge of the kitchen than knowing the hardest part is over and no one is in imminent danger of starving. You are no longer expected to produce a meal consisting of more parts than your child’s new Meccano set. Your wedding dinner service is safely back in the cupboard all in tact for another year and the white, starched tablecloths, perfectly ironed napkins and polished silver cutlery that are essential in making Christmas so special, are no longer required. Even your own dogs have stopped pestering you and are happily snoozing on their beds in a state of comatose contentment.
Now it becomes open season in the larder as people merrily dive in to graze on cold balls of stuffing and make their own towering sandwiches of turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, lashings of salad cream and token leaves of lettuce. Suddenly you realise it’s perfectly acceptable to serve a meal that consists of oddly shaped bits of cheese, a few satsumas and a handful of Quality Street. You become so relaxed you are not even annoyed that carving etiquette has been forgotten, as you have hardly had to lift even a finger in order for the household to be fed. Then, best of all, you know it won’t be long until someone makes everyone’s truly favourite meal of the festive season: brown turkey curry.
GOING TO WASTE
Sadly, an alternative fate awaits tons of food this Christmas. What will equate to millions of pounds will simply be thrown away. This will be due to kitchen mishaps, such as over or under cooking, or just buying too much food and allowing it to spoil. As a nation, we are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects this has not only on our bank balance but on the environment.
Besides the unnecessary waste of resources, energy and contribution to pollution, there is also the moral dilemma: an unnecessary number of people out there are still malnourished or rely on food banks to meet their nutritional needs.
The meals after Christmas, for me, besides being more relaxing, are my chance to transform food into something more exotic without the worry of upsetting the traditionalists. Turkey and vegetable curries or tagines are obviously popular as they are comforting and feel totally different to the original meal. Soup is also a great way to clean out big portions of the fridge. Gratins, pies and tarts are a clever way to use up bits and pieces when there isn’t really a lot of one particular thing and they also help finish off any odd ends of cheese, cream or crème fraîche. And don’t forget that festive cocktails are a great way to use up surplus citrus fruit.
For this special Christmas edition I have shared with you some ideas for meals to make after Christmas. If you don’t have all the ingredients you shouldn’t feel the need to rush to the shops to get the exact recipe unless, of course, you are looking to escape the house for a bit. So feel free to substitute and omit where necessary.
Wishing you all a very merry and delicious Christmas.
Philippa Davis is a Field columnist, private chef, food blogger and cookery writer. Follow her on Instagram: philippadavis_postcard_recipes or go to: philippadavis.com